It’s the Eagles vs. the Eagles at Apogee Stadium Saturday afternoon as Southern Miss travels to North Texas. It should be a beautiful afternoon for football as these two will clear up the CUSA West divisional race to some degree.
Abraham vs. Fine
The top two passers in the league meet with Jack Abraham from USM and North Texas’ Mason Fine taking snaps. Abraham is the surprise starter for USM after a suspension, and a transfer thinned the Eagle’s quarterback room. Abraham grabbed the starting job and hasn’t let it go even with the return of suspended 2017 starter Kwadra Griggs. Abraham completes 70% of his passes for over 300 yards per game. His QB rating is 158 and swells to 163 in the second half. Like Fine, he’s a little undersized at 6 feet tall.
Fine’s fast start has slowed a bit, after throwing for 400 yards or more in his first two starts he hasn’t eclipsed 300 yards in any of the Mean Greens’ next four outings. Fine completes 64% of his throws and is at an elite level protecting the football with fifteen touchdowns to just one interception. In the second half Fine hits another gear with, completing 71% of his attempts.
Kind of a Big Deal
For North Texas, the margin for error in the CUSA West is gone. The loss to Louisiana Tech put them two games behind the eight ball, needing help because of the head to head loss. UAB provided that help that week, dismantling the Bulldogs in Ruston, but any further slips by North Texas will serve to eliminate North Texas ability to get to a CUSA title game, especially with a trip to UAB and a home date against FAU. Saturday’s a massive opportunity for North Texas.
Inside the Numbers
The Golden Eagles are eighth in the FBS in completion percentage and tenth with 327 passing yards per game.
North Texas holds opponents to less than 50% completions and less than 230 yards passing. The Mean Green allow an average passer rating of 101.75, that’s an 80 point improvement over 2017.
A key to the Mean Green’s success is they sack opponents once out of every twelve attempts. For some perspective, last season that number was a sack every nineteen attempts.
Southern Miss, on the other hand, gets a sack every 24 attempts.
The Golden Eagles miss Ito Smith. USM is down nearly 1.5 yards per carry and 70 rushing yards per game. The offensive staff is overseeing a shift, dropping their rushing percentage from 53% of total plays per game down to 45%. Last year 43% of USM’s total yards came via the ground, this year that number is 29%.